Mobile Version | Print-Friendly Version
TESOL Globe
August 2021
TESOL Globe
Forward to a Friend  |  RSS Feeds  |  Archives  |   Follow us on TwitterLike us on FacebookFollow us on LinkedIn
ADVERTISEMENT
Quick Tip: 3 Activities to Discuss Names and Identity in Your Classroom
by Clarissa Codrington and Trisha Dowling

Each semester, many of us are faced with learning a new group of students’ names, getting them to know yours, and encouraging them to learn one another’s. Names and the identity that we derive from them are personal, and the use of appropriate names shows respect. We recommend broaching this topic head-on and getting students to think about identity, what it means to them, and how it is manifested in our names. Note that some of these same ideas and strategies can be applied to pronoun use as well.

Activity 1: Name Discussion

Materials: no materials necessary
Learning Objectives

  • Get to know classmates
  • Learn classmates' names
  • Understand naming cultural practices around the world

Outcome: Students learn how to discuss naming practices and better understand issues related to names.
Duration: 30–45 minutes

On the first day of class, being open and discussing the subject of names as part of an icebreaker can help students have a voice in the topic and also provide both you and students with cultural knowledge about names and naming practice.

Discussion Questions

  1. How do you introduce yourself and why do you choose to do it that way?
  2. Do you use your given name or a nickname when introducing yourself? Does it depend on who you are meeting? Why?
  3. What are some challenges you have experienced (or observed) with self-introductions and names in particular?
  4. Why do you (or don’t you) use an “English name”?
  5. What questions do you have about your own name or your “English name”?

Can be used in: cultural class, listening/speaking, pronunciation, any opening day activity

Activity 2: Quotes About Naming Practices

Materials: sample quotes about names
Learning Objectives

  • Discuss names and their significance
  • Recognize the universality of names and their importance in various cultures

Outcome: Students learn how to discuss naming practices and better understand issues related to names.
Duration: 15–45 minutes

In this class activity, provide students with quotes about names and have them, in pairs and then as a class, discuss the quotes and how they connect to their own lives. This activity can be extended by students presenting naming practices from their own cultural or linguistic backgrounds.

Example Quotes

  • "It is through our names that we first place ourselves in the world. Our names, being the gift of others, must be made our own." (Ralph Ellison)
  • "I’m not my name. My name is something I wear, like a shirt. It gets worn. I outgrow it, I change it." (Jerry Spinelli)
  • "Tigers die and leave their skins; people die and leave their names." (Japanese Proverb)
  • "The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name." (Confucius)

Can be used in: cultural class, listening/speaking

Activity 3: Helping People Remember: Rhyming

Materials: computer, access to video online
Learning Objectives

  • Discuss names and their significance
  • Recognize the universality of names and their importance in various cultures

Outcome: Students create a practical example of how to teach others to say their name.
Duration: 20–45 minutes

Students watch the video of Saorise Ronan’s SNL monologue in which she discusses the incorrect pronunciation of her name. In this clip, she sings a song and uses rhymes to help people say her name correctly.

Use this video as a listening and speaking activity and as a starting point for brainstorming strategies that students can use to help others remember and pronounce their names correctly.

Students may choose to write a list of rhymes for their name or get a little creative and write a song that helps people remember.

Can be used in: cultural class, listening/speaking, pronunciation

We hope that these class activities will open up dynamic discussions about names and pronunciation and help develop intercultural understanding, making your classroom a more welcoming and comfortable space for students to be themselves.  


Clarissa Codrington has been a lecturer in various settings, including community college and intensive English programs at universities, since earning her MA TESOL from Eastern Michigan University, most recently teaching at Eastern. She is particularly interested in identity, political engagement, empowerment of students, and incorporating American history in language classrooms.

Trisha Dowling is a lecturer at the University of Michigan English Language Institute. She received her MA TESOL from Eastern Michigan University. Trisha has taught ESL in community college and university settings across southeast Michigan and is passionate about incorporating service learning, community engagement, and social justice components into her courses.

Next Article
Post a Comment
 Rate This Article
Print This ArticleForward This Article
Table of Contents
TC Homepage
5 Games Inspired by The 6 Principles
Unlocking Complex Grammar: 4 Steps for Reading and Writing
6 Tips for Developing a Course in an LMS
Quick Tip: 3 Activities to Discuss Names and Identity in Your Classroom
TESOL Board Connect: How to Turn Into a Baobab Tree
Association News
Resources
Job Link
Content and Learning Coordinator; TESOL International Association, Alexandria, Virginia, USA

Director of Academics; iTEP International, Los Angeles, California, USA

Director of the English Language Training Institute; UNC Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Full-Time High School English Teachers; TUP Academy, Wuhan, Hubei and ShenZhen, Guangdong, China 


Want to post your open positions to Job Link? Click here.

To browse all of TESOL's job postings, check out the TESOL Career Center.

ADVERTISEMENT
Upcoming TESOL Dates

2 August–12 September 2021
Supporting English Learners With Exceptional Needs

18 September 2021
TESOL Virtual PreK–12 Day 

29 September–9 November 2021
TESOL: Training for Trainers 

11 October–7 November 2021
Separating Difference From Disability With ELLs 

TESOL
Worldwide Calendar of Events

Find conferences and events related to the field of English language education

ADVERTISEMENT

TESOL Connections is the newsletter of TESOL International Association
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

© TESOL International Association. All rights reserved. Please contact permissions@tesol.org.

Active TESOL members may read current and recent issues of TESOL Connections online at http://www.tesol.org/tc. Inclusion in TESOL Connections does not constitute an endorsement by TESOL.

For article guidelines: www.tesol.org/tc/submissions
For questions about TESOL Connections: tc@tesol.org
For questions about copyright or permission: permissions@tesol.org
For advertising: advertise@tesol.org

TESOL International Association
1925 Ballenger Avenue, Suite 550 Alexandria, VA 22314-6820 USA
Tel. +1 703.518.2501
Fax: +1 703.691.5327
E-mail: members@tesol.org (general information)
www.tesol.org